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Sandy Hunt

U.S. Soccer Forms Referee Selection Panel for its Referee Identification and Training Initiative

Select Group Includes Former or Current Professional and FIFA Officials

Select Group Includes Former or Current Professional and FIFA Officials

CHICAGO (June 8, 2012) – The U.S. Soccer Referee Program has recently formed a Selection Panel of former or current professional and FIFA officials to assist the Referee Identification and Training Initiative.

This experienced panel includes U.S. Soccer Director of Referee Identification and Training Herb Silva, Don Wilbur, Sandy Hunt, Dave McKee, Craig Lowry and Ryan Cigich. A representative will be named from the Professional Referee Organization (PRO) to make up a seven-person group.

“The idea is that we want to have collaborative group decisions and nothing unilateral,” Silva said. “The panel has a broad background with international experience and credibility. Going forward, the concept is to put some degree of perspective into the national body of officials. In the recent past, it’s been people just doing criteria and everybody following the X’s and O’s. The impetus now is about quality experience and defining our national standards.”

The major concept within the panel’s decision-making process and analysis will be determining a finite pool of the highest quality national referees and assistant referees.

“It remains to be seen what that number will be, but what we are doing is seeing the top referees who meet the qualitative criteria and then analyzing everything as a group,” Silva said. “The bulk of us will meet at a midseason pro camp and then travel to Frisco, Texas, during the Development Academy Playoffs to set the standards.”

The panel will not only look at national assessors’ input and their data, but the panel will also be in place throughout various tournaments and events to interact with officials, get feedback and sort through other intangibles.

“This is the next tier of what we need to do to increase our professional standards,” Silva said. “If we look at the demographics of where officials are in this country, the vast majority are servicing the youth game and adult divisions. If you target those folks who want to go places and aspire to have a professional position, we need to better define how they get that skillset. We’ve gone to regional competitions and other events, put scouts in place and we are identifying those top referees for the pool.”

As the game on the pitch continues to adapt and improve, so too are the efforts implemented for creating the highest standards in officiating.

“Perception is reality in the referee community, as well,” Silva said. “We want to not only find the best pool of officials, but we want to point out how other officials can get better and what the skillset needs to be so they can service the game at any level. We’re also looking at aspiring national candidates who have gone through regionals, the Development Academy Finals, adult regional games and have accumulated a variety of challenging games over the year and perform at a high level.

“The data accumulation and analysis will sort itself out because we have all of the information at our finger tips,” Silva said. “We’ll see how this process works. Setting up the selection panel just makes sense.”

U.S. Soccer Referee ID and Training Initiative Panel
Herb Silva: Silva is the U.S. Soccer Director of Referee Identification and Training. The former U.S. Soccer national referee has worked in numerous capacities throughout his career, serving as an assignor of referees for Major League Soccer and other leagues to holding the Director of Officials role for the Major Indoor Soccer League. Silva was the recipient of the 2006 Eddie Pearson Award, which is presented each year to a referee who has distinguished himself or herself through outstanding contributions to soccer refereeing in the U.S.

Don Wilbur: Wilbur has a wealth of referee experience within U.S. Soccer, serving as a referee coach inspector since 1978. Since January of 2010, Wilbur has held the role of National Coordinator of Officials for men’s and women’s soccer in the NCAA. He was inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame in 2004.

Sandy Hunt: Hunt has served on the U.S. Soccer Referee Committee since 2002. She also has been a FIFA referee instructor and FIFA referee match observer since 2004. Hunt has worked in big global events such as the 2003 FIFA Women’s World Cup and the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, and she was one of the first two women to referee an MLS game hosted by the Kansas City Wizards. Hunt currently is a soccer officiating coordinator at the Pac-12 and West Coast Conferences.

Dave McKee: McKee has been involved in the program in a variety of roles. He was the Chairman of the U.S. Soccer Referee Committee from 2000 through 2006 and currently serves as the U.S. Soccer National Director of Assessment, a role he has held since 1996. McKee also has experience on the international stage as a referee inspector for the 1994 FIFA World Cup and the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup. He has officiating experience at both the national and professional level and was the recipient of the 2008 Eddie Pearson Award.

Ryan Cigich: Cigich currently serves as US Youth Soccer’s Midwest Regional League administrator and is the officiating coordinator for the Major Indoor Soccer League. He was a national referee from 1998 through 2006 and in that time officiated both professional and indoor professional soccer.

Craig Lowry: Lowry was a FIFA assistant referee from 1998 through 2006. He is currently a professional assistant referee and was named 2010 Assistant Referee of the Year by Major League Soccer. He has also worked with U.S. Soccer to train, mentor and evaluate national referees who specialize in the assistant referee track.

The Professional Referee Organization (PRO) will add a representative to complete the seven-person Selection Panel.